By Chris Lisinski
TOWNSEND — The Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday to hire interim Town Administrator James Kreidler to the full-time position on a three-year contract.
The board met in executive session after Tuesday’s meeting to conduct the final steps of contract negotiations with Kreidler. The two parties agreed to terms — they had met in at least three previous sessions on the matter — and then all three members of the board signed Kreidler’s new contract in public.
“I’m excited to welcome Jim Kreidler as our permanent town administrator, and I look forward to all of the great things we’re going to accomplish in Townsend,” said Selectmen Chairwoman Carolyn Smart. “His resume is outstanding. His education, his professionalism, his ability to take us through troubled waters with a successful outcome and still get an awful lot of things accomplished for the town — it’s been a pleasure working with him.”
Kreidler’s contract lasts until June 30, 2019. For the 2017 fiscal year, he will be paid a salary of $122,188, and his compensation in the following two years will be based on “performance” and “negotiation,” according to his contract.
He will receive 25 vacation days in the first year of his contract, 30 days in the second year and 35 days in the third year. Under the terms of the contract, Kreidler can sell back two weeks of unused vacation time per year. Kreidler will also receive a stipend of $300 per month to compensate for mileage.
Kreidler took over in an interim role December following former Town Administrator Andrew Sheehan’s departure for a position in Middleton. At a May 10 meeting, selectmen announced they had received 21 applications for the full-time position, including Kreidler’s, and it voted to begin talks exclusively with Kreidler.
The board noted that he “proved himself” during his time in an interim role.
After the board made its decision, Kreidler said he looks forward to continuing his work in Townsend.
“This is the profession that I’ve chosen, the only work I’ve ever done,” he said. “I think the unanimous vote of the board is an important thing. The unity that it shows, the commitment to each other moving forward, should send a strong message to the community that we’re planning on sticking together and moving forward and doing the people’s work.”
However, the decision is likely to prompt some objections. Some have opposed the process the board took to hire Kreidler, particularly because the selectmen did not conduct interviews with other candidates.
Finance Committee Chairman Don Klein decided to leave the committee in protest. Last month, he asked the town moderator not to reappoint him as his term expired, but he agreed to remain on board either through the end of June or until a replacement could be found. Three other members of the Finance Committee resigned in May, citing unspecified concerns over the town’s “direction.”
Two members of a group aiming to recall Smart and fellow Selectman Gordon Clark filed a complaint against Kreidler in April alleging he revealed sensitive information, but the board found their complaint without merit following a hearing in executive session.
Selectman Gordon Clark said he heard praise from numerous people who have worked with Kreidler in the past.
“I spent extensive amounts of time talking to former boards, former employees across the state, and they told me Jim Kreidler is one of the sharpest in the business,” he said.
Smart said she sees Kreidler as the best choice for the community.
“I appreciate people sharing their concerns, but that’s why they elected us to run their government,” she said. “I hope that they can put aside their concerns and welcome our new town administrator and help him to be successful. It takes everyone to succeed.”
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